Jaguar Firm’s Systems Thinking Theory and Practice

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Introduction

Contemporary organisations are supposed to operate like systems. What this means is that they are characterised by, among others, changes, culture, and people. The changes that take place in other external systems, such as the economy and the society, tend to affect the operations of the firm (Aquinas 2008). On their part, the activities of a given organisation have an impact on other systems in the society, such as the government and the larger community.

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Jaguar is one of the organisations operating in the modern society. The activities of this firm can be viewed from the perspective of organisational theory and practice. In this paper, the author analyses a number of issues at Jaguar. To this end, the author will draw a spray diagram and a closed loop control model diagram based on a case study about cultural transformation at Jaguar. In addition, the concepts of organisational culture and organisational structure will be analysed in relation to transformations at Jaguar.

Changing the Culture at Jaguar: A Case Study

Analysing Change in Culture at Jaguar using a Spray Diagram

A spray diagram illustrating cultural change at Jaguar
Figure 1: A spray diagram illustrating cultural change at Jaguar

Reflecting on the Diagram

The major theme in the spray diagram is cultural change. The aspect of cultural change has five major elements. They include the Jaguar Vision, team work, changing demands, changes in the car industry, and strategy. Henry Ford was a major figure in the car manufacturing sector (Changing the culture at Jaguar: A Jaguar case study 2016). His influence led to the emergence of Fordism. Fordist firms focused on standardised production. One example of such a model was the T Ford. There were also changes in the attitudes of the line workers, resulting in a reduction in production costs.

Japanese production approaches, including the Total Quality Management (TQM), were adopted by Ford after the WWII (Changing the culture at Jaguar: A Jaguar case study 2016). Changing demands led to flexibility, rationalisation, and the emergence of a skilled workforce. The change strategy was managed by Senn Delaney Leadership. The consultant firm helped Jaguar to come up with a new business direction. A change in teamwork approach led to a sense of ownership among the employees, giving rise to lean production. A new vision resulted in the creation of a Halewood Difference Programme and a set of new guiding values and behaviours.

Transforming Corporate Culture at Jaguar from the Perspective of a Closed Loop Control Model Diagram

A closed loop control model diagram illustrating transformation in corporate culture at Jaguar
Figure 2: A closed loop control model diagram illustrating transformation in corporate culture at Jaguar

A Reflection on the Diagram

There are 3 major inputs in the processing cycle. They include Jaguar’s management, the employees, and Senn Delaney Leadership, the consultancy firm. The consultancy, together with the management and the workers, will come up with new rafts of ideas to transform the culture of the organisation (Farmer & Martin 2000). Senn Delaney is the actuator. The outputs are also three. They include new attitudes among the employees and the management, improved productivity, and a new culture. The consultancy firm, with the help of the management, will monitor the new culture in the sensor node. The results will be used, through the feedback path, to provide a comparison with the goals of the desired change in the organisation. The major goal is cultural transformation, which forms the comparator.

Organisational Culture and Development

Organisational culture

Definition

Culture is one of the attributes that define an organisation. According to Aquinas (2008), organisational culture is closely related to the functions of a given firm. The term is used to define the values and attributes that lead to the distinctive social and psychological environment of a particular firm. It includes the belief systems and values held by stakeholders associated with a given organisation (Farmer & Martin 2000). For example, in the Jaguar case study, the culture can be found in the way the top managers at the firm secluded the employees from decision making processes (Changing the culture at Jaguar: A Jaguar case study 2016). To this end, the management believed that the contributions and suggestions made by employees were insignificant as far as the productivity of the firm was concerned. Such a culture is referred to as scientific management by Farmer and Martin (2000). However, the organisational culture changed with the adoption of the new management structures proposed by Senn Delaney.

Functions of organisational culture

Organisational culture plays a number of roles in organisations. According to Farmer and Martin (2000), one element of scientific management, which is part of organisational culture, involves definition of tasks in a firm. For example, the tasks of the employees at Halewood were clearly defined with regards to the production of the Ford cars (Changing the culture at Jaguar: A Jaguar case study 2016). As such, it is clear that organisational culture can be used in the definition of activities in a firm.

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Another function is cooperation. Here, culture fosters mutual trust among stakeholders (Ravasi & Schultz 2006). For example, employees at Ford cooperated with Senn Delaney to improve productivity. Control is another function of organisational culture. For example, Jaguar was able to control market prices by adopting a new culture of production, making its products affordable (Changing the culture at Jaguar: a Jaguar case study 2016). In addition, organisational culture is used to justify the behaviour of stakeholders (Aquinas 2008). For example, the employees at Jaguar used the culture of the company to make sense of the control the management had over them.

Organisational structure

Definition

According to Aquinas (2008), organisational structure can be defined in terms of the hierarchy found in a firm. It refers to the way employees communicate with each other and the management, and the power held by given members of the organisation. For example, before the 1990s, employees at Jaguar could not participate in decision making (Changing the culture at Jaguar: a Jaguar case study 2016). They waited to be given directions by the managers.

Types of organisational structures

There are basically two types of organisational structures. They are the formal and informal structures. The two are further subdivided to give rise to various forms of hierarchies. First is line organisational structure (Farmer & Martin 2000). Here, there are direct and vertical lines of communications between employees at different levels in the organisation. For example, the CEO of Ford could not communicate directly with an assembly line worker. On the contrary, the message had to go through the supervisors and other intervening agents.

There is also the functional authority kind of structure (Farmer & Martin 2000). Here, the organisation is divided into several departments. There is also the line and staff formation. In this case, there are two departments in the firm. The first is line, while the other deals with personnel (Schrodt 2002). The fourth is the divisional organisational hierarchy. Such an organisation comes up with various bases to define and form different departments (Farmer & Martin 2000). Such bases include the activities in the firm and different geographic locations.

Another structure is the matrix organisational hierarchy (Farmer & Martin 2000). It is found in permanent organisations. Such entities are structured to attain specified goals and objectives. An example is an organisation with a president and several vice presidents. There is also the hybrid structure. According to Farmer and Martin (2000), IBM is one of the organisations with such a structure. Such an entity is led by Board of Directors at the top and employees at the bottom of the ladder. Such firms are characterised by functional expertise and improved efficiency. However, the administration costs are exorbitant. There is also a project structure. They are found in temporary entities formed to achieve a set of goals.

How organisational culture and structure shape effectiveness and performance

The culture and structure adopted by a given organisation have an impact on its effectiveness and performance. For example, the adoption of the wrong culture or structure may lead to financial losses, lethargy among employees, conflicts between managers and the workers, and the eventual collapse of the firm (Schrodt 2002).

According to Farmer and Martin (2000), one function of an organisational structure entails differentiation and specialisation of duties in the firm. For example, as the number of employees increase, there is need to define the exact duties that each of them is supposed to perform. For example, in Jaguar, there are those employees working in the assembly plants, in sales, and in management levels (Changing the culture at Jaguar: a Jaguar case study 2016). Such differentiations are made possible by the structure adopted by the firm. With regards to differentiation, Farmer and Martin (2000) give the example of how different departments become distinct and perform different functions. It is what is referred to as horizontal differentiation. However, this form of differentiation may lead to quarrels and inconsistencies between the departments. As such, the adoption of the wrong form of structure, which may lead to horizontal differentiation, may result in conflicts.

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As already indicated, an organisational structure may also affect the productivity of the employees. For example, a given structure may focus more on the managers than on the employees. The hierarchy adopted by Jaguar before the 1990s discouraged employees from taking part in decision making processes (Changing the culture at Jaguar: a Jaguar case study 2016). As a result, the performance of the workers was negatively affected as they relied on instructions from the managers.

Command and communication is another function of structures (Farmer & Martin 2000). For example, a distinct chain of command is established. In this case, there is a formal flow of information between the management and the employees. The right structure will enhance this interaction and leave the lines of communication open. However, the adoption of the wrong structure may stifle the flow of information between the members of staff (Ravasi & Schultz 2006). It may negatively affect performance and productivity in cases where the employees feel ignored and left out of the decision making process. The structure was one of the reasons why the performance of Jaguar in the car industry was poor before the 1990s.

Organisational culture may impact on the performance and efficiency of employees by impacting on cooperation (Ravasi & Schultz 2006). For example, a culture of mutual trust between the workers and the managers may improve the efficiency of the firm. Senn Delaney Leadership came on board and introduced changes that improved the culture at Ford. The consultancy firm was well aware of the fact that many employees, especially those at the management levels, may resist the change in culture (Changing the culture at Jaguar: A Jaguar case study 2016). As a result, the team had to come up with effective measures to manage the change.

Organisational culture informs the decision making processes among firms (Farmer & Martin 2000). For example, the adoption of the right culture may lead to reduced disagreements during decision making processes. Before Senn Delaney Leadership came on board, employees at Ford were alienated from the decision making process. The company was working along the lines of scientific management, where the duties of the managers and the employees were clearly defined (Changing culture at Jaguar: a Jaguar case study 2016). However, when this strategy was changed, the productivity of the firm was enhanced.

The adoption of the right organisational culture may also help the firm to control the market and its employees (Farmer & Martin 2000). Ford was able to come up with cars that were affordable to the general public after the management adopted a new culture. It is also noted that organisational culture has an impact on the level of commitment among employees (Farmer & Martin 2000). The adoption of the right culture helps the workers to identify with the goals and objectives of the organisation. As a result, their performance is enhanced. However, the wrong culture may have the opposite effect of alienating the employees. The workers at Ford became committed to their firm after the adoption of the new culture.

Organisational development and organisational learning

Organisational development

Different scholars define the concept of organisation development variously. For example, Farmer and Martin (2000) view it as a set of plans put in place by a firm and organised from the top. The aim of such plans is to enhance the effectiveness of the firm. Organisational development may lead to increased performance through the adoption and implementation of interventions in the firm. It may also refer to the efforts made by individual employees to enhance their productivity (Aquinas 2008).

Organisational development is apparent in the Jaguar case study. For example, the management introduced structured changes by hiring a consultancy firm (Changing the culture at Jaguar: a Jaguar case study 2016). Incremental changes were evident in the firm as a result of the change in culture among employees and the management. For example, the employees were encouraged to participate in decision making processes.

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Organisational learning

According to Ravasi and Schultz (2006), organisational learning is related to the adoption and introduction of new information in a firm. The information is used to build on the memory of the organisation (Farmer & Martin 2000). The aim is to improve the efficiency and performance of the firm. For example, the management and employees at Jaguar collected information to come up with a new culture and structure for the firm. Consequently, the firm came up with a new vision and mission statement.

A critical analysis of the case study reveals that Jaguar is a learning organisation. The reason is that a close relationship can be established between the organisational development witnessed in the firm and adoption of new knowledge. The management became aware of the fact that the global car industry was changing. As such, there was a felt need to introduce changes in the firm. The introduction of the Total Quality Management procedure was aimed at addressing these changes (Changing the culture at Jaguar: a Jaguar case study 2016). The fact that the management contracted the consultancy firm to manage the change process is a clear indicator of a learning organisation. The move had a positive impact on the performance of the firm.

Implementing change in an organisation

There are several strategies that can be used to implement change in an organisation. The first entails securing the support of the management (Aquinas 2008). Workers will become more receptive to changes when they feel that the management is supporting the procedure. As such, their opposition to the change is reduced. The other strategy entails justifying the need for change. For example, the consultancy may have justified the new measures by arguing that the global car industry was changing at the time. Consequently, it was important to ensure that Ford adopted new strategies to deal with the changes (Changing the culture at Jaguar: a Jaguar case study 2016). The management can use this strategy to counter resistance to change among employees. It is also important to involve the employees in the change process. The need for participation of the workforce was one of the reasons why the management at Ford came up with a people-centred strategy. The aim was to convince the employees to embrace the change, reducing their resistance in the process.

Another strategy entails communication. It is important for the parties responsible for the transformation to communicate with the employees, the management, shareholders, and other stakeholders (Schrodt 2002). A systematic communication procedure is likely to reduce resistance to change.

The implementation procedure should also be communicated to the parties involved. To this end, the consultancy firm came up with a new vision and mission statement for Ford (Changing the culture at Jaguar: a Jaguar case study 2016). The vision and mission statements informed the parties involved of the importance of the proposed changes. Implementation should be accompanied by follow-up (Ravasi & Schultz 2006). In this case, the results of the change are assessed and compared against the targeted objectives. The employees resisting the change are identified and dealt with appropriately during the follow-ups.

It is also important to remove barriers that may be encountered during the change process (Farmer & Martin 2000). The barriers may discourage the employees, leading to resistance. Such barriers include lack of support from the relevant parties. Celebration is also crucial to the implementation process (Aquinas 2008). Celebrating the successes made boosts the morale of the employees, reducing resistance to change.

Conclusion

Culture and structure are some of the most important elements in an organisation. They define the operations of the firm and how it associates with both internal and external agents. The two concepts have a significant impact on the performance and efficiency of a firm. In this paper, the author analyse a case study of transformation at Jaguar. The change in culture and structure of the firm was seen to have a positive impact on the performance of the organisation. The transformation was necessitated by corresponding changes in the global automobile industry.

References

Aquinas, P 2008, Organisation structure and design: applications & challenges, Excel Books, New Delhi.

Changing the culture at Jaguar: a Jaguar case study 2016, Web.

Farmer, E & Martin, J 2000, T205 systems thinking: principles and practice, The Open University, Milton Keynes, UK.

Ravasi, D & Schultz, M 2006, ‘Responding to organisational identity threats: exploring the role of organisational culture’, Academy of Management Journal, vol. 49 no. 3, pp. 433-458.

Schrodt, P 2002, ‘The relationship between organisational identification and organisational culture: employee perceptions of culture and identification in a retail sales organisation’, Communication Studies, vol. 53, pp. 189-202.

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